Liu in the Imperial Harem


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This book is Jiang Yingliu’s memoir, which narrates Liu’er life from Beauty to Empress in the palace. Under the plain sentences lies the difficult life in the palace for more than 50 years. Inside the palace, everyone is pitiful. The author describes the majority of “my” life in the palace after “I” accidentally entered the palace in first-person perspective and shows a different life in the imperial harem. Rather than intrigue and contention, the life here is quite peaceful and happy. Finally, I wish them reincarnate as civilians next life and never enter the palace again as they wished.

Pink hands so fine,
Gold-branded wine,
Spring paints the willows green
palace walls can’t confine.
East wind unfair,
Happy times rare.  
In my heart sad thoughts throng;  
We severed for years long.  
Wrong, wrong, wrong!  
Spring is as green, 
In vain she’s lean,  
Her kerchief soaked with tears and red with stains unclean.  
Peach blossoms fall  
Near deserted hall.  
Our oath is still there. Lo!  
No word to her can go.   
No, no, no!

Associated Names
One entry per line
Gong Qiang Liu
Willow in the Imperial Harem
Related Series
The Job of an Imperial Concubine (2)
Fugui Ronghua (1)
The Dreamer in the Spring Boudoir (1)
The Day I Disappeared (1)
Ying Chong (1)
Recommendation Lists
  1. Excellent
  2. To be read - Historical Romances (high scores & go...
  3. Fulmi's romance list
  4. Memorable MC/ML/CPs
  5. BEAUTIFUL stories of life

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15 Reviews sorted by

Jevanka926 rated it
March 24, 2020
Status: Completed
This story is about those who lived in the palace and their feelings. It's like reading a diary. Our FL was not supposed to be sent to the palace, but since her two sisters had accidents -I suspect that they actually schemed each other- she had no choice but to be sent there. Well, there she became friends with the Empress, Concubine Shu, and another one concubine. Concubine Shu treated her as her own child and our FL also liked to play with the third princesss, the daughter of Concubine... more>> Shu. I really appreciate that the translator could bring FL's naivety.

I decided to MTL this story and I successfully finished this story in a day. This story might seem like innocent at first, but after you realized the reasons behind those kind words, lively laughters, and sarcastic words, the heaviness would struck you if you aren't prepared for it. Or at least, that's what happened to me. I thought this would be similar -the tone or the amount of sadness since our FL is so innoncent- to Our Second Master, yet, I was wrong, this story's tone and heaviness is similar with Eastern Palace, and Deposed Empress General, but instead of the point of view from the female lover (the Empress), it's from the point of view from others, like our FL and the people inside the palace who witnessed the tragedy between the empress and the emperor


The Empress married the Emperor when she was fourteen and the Emperor was just a prince. The Empress' family even helped the Emperor to get the throne. But of course, her family alone wouldn't be able to help him, so he also married others, and Concubine Xu's -if I remember her name right- family was the most powerful backer for him to get the throne.

The empress and Shu concubine were friends and they through hardships under Xu concubine together. The empress gave birth to twins -- a girl and a boy, which Xu and her servants forcibly took away from the empress and Shu concubine's arms. One of the child died by neglect meanwhile her other one could only lived until three because Xu concubine's daughter pushed her/him into a pond. Meanwhile the empress youngest son, died a year before Liu came because of smallpox. At this point, I almost got out of breath, this is heavy because it involves children.

Thus, the empress became ill, and after her family left the capital, she almost collapsed. She finally died when she was twenty five. The empress was once a lively and naive girl, yet she finally became a heartbroken mother.

The emperor treated our FL as the empress' substitute, which is why he 'loved' to read that particular poem about young love to FL. Fortunately, our FL was smart enough -and also because she was taught well by her friends, ie: Shu Fei, Wen Fei- she didn't fall for the emperor who played ayoung girls' hearts to get their families.

The emperor became heartbroken after the empress left the world, so he treted our FL as if she was the empress. He even said he wanted to give her three children. Well, he had many children later on, but they were very close since our FL -who became the second empress- made a loving atmosphere for the palace except for the third prince, who later rebelled and had to do suicide.

It hurts me that the empress' last words were about how she wanted to go back home, with her mother and father, playing the kites that her father made for her. Wang fei's last words were about her lover. Wen fei who died in her sleep after embroidering eight girls.


Were Xu Fei and Chen Fei really that evil? In the extra chapters, we saw that they also had stories to tell. They were young and they also had dreams of their own. All the girls that were stuck in the harem had stories of their own. Their different choices, mindsets, and dreams made it hard for me to not cry. This story made me cry, no, not for that greedy yet capable emperor's love story, but for those girls' dreams, stories, and tears. Their friendship was the one that made me cry. Those girls could've been what they want, but now they got stuck in the palace.

So, I just want to state that the emperor is a scum, a real scum, who couldn't protect someone he loved and that he didn't deserve most of the woman in the harem. But well, then again, many people said you can't get the throne and love at the same time. The emperor and the empress could've been a perfect couple, but to get the throne, the emperor needed to sacrifice, and he paid for it. IMO, this story is another reality that you have to sacrifice for something you want, and you have to be responsible for the price...

Does that comfort my broken heart? No.

But does that make me appreciate this story more? Yes.

4.5/5 for the story, and I take 0.5 because I hate the emperor <<less
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haweii rated it
April 20, 2020
Status: c20
Liu in the Imperial Harem is very different compared to the rest of historical novels.

The special things about it, is that there is your typical tragic dog-blood drama, but it is not happening to our MC but to someone who she grew close to. Most of it happened in the past already. Through various 'flashbacks' and hints, you get a picture of that drama. The MC is calm/wise (it's hard to explain it in one word, but you know she is someone who will survive no matter what AND... more>> protects her heart and self).

It is told in the perspective of a young girl who enters the harem at the age of 14 and learn to grew up. The people in the book aren't one dimensional, most of them are likeable and even the most hateful ones have their reasons.

Just a warning, there is...
... No rebirth
... No transmigration
... No till little typical face slappings happening
... No to little romance, well it is a part of the plot. But all good stories need romance

You get...
... Characters with depths and own personalities
... A more realistic take on harems und the people living there
... Bittersweet emotions
... A different but still lovely MC
... A scumbag who gets (more or less, there is no limit for groveling!) what deserves
... And so much more! <<less
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novellike rated it
March 24, 2020
Status: c1
The attitudes of those consorts towards the Emperor made me laugh out. What a happy imperial harem in the deep palace! Those girls seem to be very kind and smart to survive. I am looking forward to more chapters. The destiny of the little Liu’er attracted me so much.
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silent hobby
silent hobby rated it
April 3, 2020
Status: Completed
I love love love this novel (good thing has to say 3x).

This story make me laugh, cry, angry, happy and sentimental. There are many mix emotions which is good because I immerse in the story.

Our FL is a good girl and beautiful. She think that she is s*upid but I think she is wise. She knows what suppose to do and what is to avoid.

... more>> She has her own gang of girl friends in harem, they are all BFF (best friend forever).

I dislike the emperor but not hated him because although he is a jerk and manipulated many girls for his purposes but he is a good emperor because he has to cleanup the mess leave by previous emperor and rule his dynasty wisely.

In this story, there is one conclusion that I could make, who was falling in love with the emperor and gave her heart, she will live miserably and unable ti have a good ending but if she guarded her heart, think and see clearly and just do her duty, she will live worry free and peaceful life.

Live this one ????? <<less
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It's a bittersweet yet beautiful short piece. I felt really sad for all of them, the MC, the consorts, the empress, and also the emperor. The empress and emperor had truly loved each other, the emperor had actually ONLY loved the empress, and had given favour to the rest (including the MC) only because of their resemblance with the empress. As for the rest of the consorts (the good ones), I really hope that in their next lives, they would remain friends (together as well as with the MC and... more>> empress) and would have their own husbands, OWN. In the last few chapters when everyone died (the consorts), and the MC was left alone with her children and grandchildren, it was really nice that she has such a loving and harmonious family... but it's still a bit sad. I think what made me feel the most was still the feelings between the emperor and the empress; how the MC had actually felt something for him, but she knew that the 'Jiao Jiao' that he calls is actually the empress. <<less
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Kailei rated it
April 29, 2020
Status: Completed
I have no words that I want to say, but I feel a need to convey what this story made me feel, so please forgive me for rambling.

This is a great story.

It was so short. And I was so completely torn.

... more>> I feel that this story could almost be called a tragedy, yet it was filled with hope and laughter.

It was simply so real. The characters were all different with different likes and tastes. They experienced so much sorrow and joy.

Whether or not, the FL led a happy life could be debated, but she completely and absolutely lived it to the fullest without leaving any regrets behind. And what more can you ask for? <<less
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Amon rated it
April 27, 2020
Status: Completed
Beautiful story. Bittersweet.
3 Likes · Like Permalink | Report
bookmunchies rated it
December 2, 2020
Status: Completed
It's so good. No words. TT0TT

The harem women all have a life, they're written as people with actual interests and friendships. Not to mention actually realistic behavior for their age and understandable disdain, disgust and shock for the emperor's behavior.

The story follows the life of Liu-er from the time she first entered the palace at 14 and the way she grows under the care of high ranking consorts and at the beginning, the empress. It showcases the difference in the emperor's treatment of different women and his disregard for them... more>> as individuals.

It's so well written that it's easy to overlook the fact that the translation isn't of a high quality.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!THE LINKS AREN'T DEAD THEY WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <<less
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ralyks rated it
November 16, 2020
Status: Completed
It was wonderful. I cried at the end. Liu'er was the character I thought was pitiful but couldn't bear to pity her. She was at the age when love sprouts easily when she met the emperor but till the end he didn't even know who she was. She was brave that she killed her love for him and never resented the empress. She missed her family. A simple girl was caged in the Palace showing happiness but still hiding her heart till she died. She was just treated as a... more>> shadow. But she was very lucky as she had filial children and very nice friends. She didn't have a man that loved her but he still gave her good children. Thought there were some women vying for favour she didn't contact them and her friends never betrayed her. I think she lived a very fulfilling life once she realised that that man would never love her and she strangled that love. <<less
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Toubasi rated it
November 24, 2020
Status: c21
It's been 5 minutes since I finished the story and I'm still crying, is it because she watched each of her best friends die? Or is it because she was treated as a substitute? Or maybe both? Seriously I don't know but I do know that I'm sad after reading this and believe me I'm only crying because the story was just too good.

Even tho I knew from the beginning the she was treated as a substitute the moment she asked who she was I couldn't stop my tears
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tedy2004 rated it
September 12, 2020
Status: Completed
I recommend it if you expect friendship in imperial harem, not that many 0 IQ females, and the FL has IQ do not worry.

In the end, it is really a beautiful novel.
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Ruuyin rated it
September 4, 2020
Status: Completed
Short story. Beautiful friendship/sisterhood in a harem. Characters I can imagine and loved. Capable but pitiable emperor, a case of country over beauty. Deceivingly light-hearted, actually heavy. Overall, a must-read.
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lamperouge0 rated it
June 6, 2020
Status: --
Great novel with a refreshingly different plot! Unlike your typical historical drama where the MC fights the other women in the harem for the emperor's affection, this MC is more focused on living peacefully and forming friendships with the other consorts.
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Haruna89 rated it
April 25, 2020
Status: c1
The narration is plain just like reading a diary. Moreover I don't like imperial harem, so this novel is a no. Too plain to catch my interest. I want to read romance novel, hehe.
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Fulminata rated it
March 31, 2021
Status: Completed
I have nothing but praise. This unconventional palace harem story spins a deceptively innocent trope that slowly uncover its hidden depth as you go further. Each characters is gold, and even I feel sorrowful for the passing of the antagonists. It's beautiful.

Even the protagonist is unique, for matters that I can't divulged since it'll be a spoiler. And this part of the story will be much satisfying to figure out later, nearing the end of the story, and I wouldn't share it with you all now :) !.
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